TCN 2014 Cardinals Prospect #20: Greg Garcia

The middle infielder had a solid season with the bat at Triple-A Memphis. Is a big league job coming?

The Cardinal Nation/ Player Profile
(including links to full 2013 and career stats)

School: University of Hawaii

2013 rank Pos. DOB Ht. Wt. Bat Thw Signed Round
16 SS/2B 8/8/1989 6-0 175 L R 2010 7th

Selected 2013 stats

Mem 0.271 0.331 354 50 96 23 3 35 49 70 14 0.353 0.377 0.384 0.761

Staff comments (individual rankings in parentheses)

Message board community (13): Greg Garcia ranked 11th last year in voting by the community. His 2013 could be reviewed as a downer, but there is a bright side. Garcia pounced the ball in the dog days with a .368/.471/.529 line in the month of August. That raised his season average all the way up to .271 and gave Garcia supporters some optimism for a cup of coffee in September. Despite that not occurring, Garcia did earn a 40-man roster spot. That protected him from being a potential Rule 5 pick in December.

I haven't watched Garcia since his Springfield days in 2012. But I remember him enough to have a good idea of his strengths and weaknesses. What I liked most was his scrappiness in the field and at the plate grinding out at bats to draw walks in order to get on base. That is what Garcia has always been good at doing.

I also liked his approach. Each and every day, he was first one of the out of the clubhouse to sign autographs for the fans, and to get his pre-game work in. His type of personality is perfect for playing baseball.

Power is not Garcia's game, even though he did crack 10 home runs two years ago in the hitting-friendly mecca of the Texas League. His 2013 with Memphis was a bit different as he dropped down all the way to three home runs. His swing has some uppercut which tells me he has more doubles power than home run power in his bat.

Garcia has played both second and short in the minors, he projects better long-term at second, his former position. Shortstop was the position at which the Cardinals groomed him until last year, when he played all around the field for Memphis. He has lacked the range to stick at short but last spring he showed the Cardinals enough skill to play the position as they announced he "leapfrogged" over longtime shortstop prospect Ryan Jackson.

Looking ahead to 2014, it seems obvious to me that Garcia will make his major league debut. He could also stick in St. Louis for a while if Daniel Descalso has trouble hitting or staying on the field. Left-handed hitting up-the-middle utility guys with solid-to-average tools can be valuable to clubs and as a possible trade chip if that is what the Cardinals decide. - DTFlush234

Brian Walton (23): One year ago, after a breakout campaign at Springfield in 2012, Garcia made his top 40 debut as 26th on my list and 16th overall for the site. During that same time one year ago, he did not crack Baseball America's Cardinals top 30 players.

Garcia came to major league camp in 2013 and impressed, being one of the Cardinals' last cuts. Dealing with injury and perhaps an adjustment to the Pacific Coast League, Garcia struggled initially once the regular season got underway. After losing valuable momentum, he later righted his offensive ship.

It was not soon enough, however, for Garcia to earn a September MLB debut. One should not read too much into that, though. Matt Carpenter found himself in a comparable position in 2011 and pushed his way through the big-league door quickly enough. Still, Garcia improved just three spots on my list this year as the pyramid to reach St. Louis narrows.

Perhaps Garcia has suffered a bit by being destined to take a parallel path with his former University of Hawaii teammate Kolten Wong. Both players are best suited for second base, but with Wong being considered the better prospect, Garcia most often played shortstop.

That approach has probably helped Garcia become a better-rounded player, but I can't help but wonder if in another organization (or even in the Cardinals system at a different time) if Garcia might have gotten enough reps to become an MLB second base candidate instead of a likely gritty-type utilityman. At this point, his bat seems his standout asset.

I question whether Garcia's defense is good enough at short for him to be a long-term starter there, but less likely things have occurred before if the right conditions present themselves. Even if not, having a replacement when Descalso starts getting expensive is a nice luxury for the Cardinals to have at the ready.

Our 2014 top 40 countdown continues: To see the list of top Cardinals prospects announced to date and remaining article schedule, click here. You can also read the voters' philosophies in making their selections.

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